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Meet & Greet: Daniel Chait, CEO, Greenhouse Software

In this week’s Meet & Greet interview, LGBTQ+ ally and Greenhouse Software CEO Daniel Chait shares why belonging is one of the company’s core values, as well as a powerful business strategy. In fact, he confirms that awesome people with tons of choice in their careers choose to work and stay at Greenhouse because of their commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion. He also shares some great leadership advice and how he promotes inclusion.

myGwork: Why did you start this company?

Daniel: We started Greenhouse because we saw a huge opportunity to help companies improve the way they hire. By doing so, we can create enormous economic value for our customers, and also help unlock the full potential of millions of job-seekers. So, we saw a really valuable business opportunity plus the chance to create tons of positive social good for people – what could be better than that! 

myGwork: Have you always wanted to lead a company and why? 

Daniel: Pretty much, yes. I’ve been an entrepreneur nearly my entire career (25 years and counting). What I realized early on is that what mattered to me more than anything were two things: the chance to work on problems that I cared about, and to work with people that make me better. Everything else follows from there. As an entrepreneur there is so much outside your control, but you do get to decide the mission and you get to build the team, and to me those have been my north stars. 

myGwork: How would you describe your leadership style? 

Daniel: I try to start by building personal trust through vulnerability and finding points of connection. To me, trust is the foundation upon which relationships are built so it starts there. Next I try to create and communicate clarity. As a leader it’s incumbent on me to clarify my vision as best I can and then make sure everyone else sees and understands that picture. Fred Kofman has said that “great leaders have no followers” – by that he means, your job is not to get the team to follow you; it’s to get them pursuing the same vision and mission as you, to the best of your ability. 

Last, I believe in hiring great people and then letting them do their job. Great people want autonomy and freedom because they are ambitious, creative and hardworking. Nobody needs me to tell them what to do or how to do it. Getting out of the way, and making space for talented people to do their best work is a big part of leadership. 

myGwork: What attributes do you look for when promoting/hiring employees leaders in your company? 

Daniel: I look for people first of all who embody our core values of Belonging, Entrepreneurship and Purpose. Great leaders also need to be great Talent Makers – they need to build and lead a culture of hiring and talent. Because in a fast-growing organization like ours, hiring and developing talent is probably the #1 function of most leaders. 

myGwork: How do you successfully motivate your employees?

Daniel: Motivation is a complicated thing and there’s no one single answer as people are different! So you need to connect with and understand your team, not everyone is the same. It took me awhile to see that early in my career. Like most people, I assumed everyone was motivated the way I am. Not true! Some are highly motivated by goals and rewards, others by wanting to help people, or maybe by growing and developing new skills, etc. 

myGwork: How important is LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace to you? 

Daniel: LGBTQ+ inclusion is incredibly important to me. To me, inclusion is a basic human rights and common decency thing. “Belonging” is one of our core values, after all. But more than that, it’s a powerful business strategy as well. By creating a workplace where everyone can bring their whole selves and do their best work, we can compete for and retain amazing talent. I know awesome people who have tons of choice in their careers, and who choose to work at Greenhouse because of our commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion. That’s amazing for us and really helps our business! 

myGwork: How are you personally promoting inclusion in the workplace? 

Daniel: In many ways, but I’ll focus on a couple. It starts with defining, communicating and reinforcing our core values, particularly our core value of Belonging. As the CEO, the things I speak about and pay attention to matter a lot, so when I focus on Belonging (say, at company all hands meetings for example) it shows people “this is who we are”. 

On a more tangible level, one thing that comes to mind we provide financial and organizational support for our LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group (Rainbowhouse), which does an awesome job helping our LGBTQ+ employees feel heard, connect them with resources and mentors, and provide programming for the whole organization on topics of interest to the community. 

myGwork: What was the last book you read? Any interesting take-aways and would you recommend it to fellow leaders? 

Daniel: The last book I read was actually a novel called Girls with Bright Futures. It was written by Wendy Katzman, the sister of my co-founder Jon. It was hilarious and fun to read, I would recommend it to everyone. 

myGwork: What's your all-time favorite movie/show?

Daniel: Wow is it hard to pick just one. Is it ok if I say a genre? I really love neo-noir; the kind of tense psychological story with dark themes and unlikable characters. Stuff like The Usual Suspects, No Country for Old Men, Memento, etc. On the other hand I watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the other night with my wife and son, and it was a blast! So, maybe screwball musical comedy? 

myGwork: What's your most favorite holiday destination to date? 

Daniel: I love the outdoors and the wilderness. For me, hands-down the most special place to go is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, a million-acre pristine wilderness area along the Minnesota/Canadian border. The lakes are so clear you can drink right from them, and silence so pure you can hear a whisper a quarter-mile away. 

myGwork: What do you do to unwind? Which drink helps you unwind most? 

Daniel: I’m an early riser, so for me it’s coffee. I’m up usually by 6am. I make a big French press full of coffee, and settle in to do the NYT Spelling Bee and Wordle before starting my day.


 You can find more about Daniel and connect with him here.

 

 Check out some of myGwork's other recent Meet & Greet interviews, including:


 

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